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Autumn Plant Care

Autumn is an important time of the year to look after your plants. Starting now, you can prepare them so that they are ready for next spring.

14 September 2021

Regular plant maintenance is extremely important during the winter months, starting in September. As the weather gets colder, your pond plants will start to die off; these decaying leaves and stems will start to decay if they are left in the pond too long. So it’s best to cut off any dead plant material you see and prune back your pond plants so that they can continue to grow over winter.

Oxygenating plants

Most of the plants in your pond will be oxygenators. These plants will have been chosen to help aerate the pond, provide shelter for the fish under the surface of the water and to help healthy bacteria thrive. In the autumn months (September and October) you should focus on pruning the plants, so that the plants can enter their growth phase in Springtime.

In short, it is best to cut back these oxygenating plants when they start to reach the surface of the water. Each stem that goes above the surface of the pond may try to develop flowers; this it is best to avoid this so that the plant can focus on using its resources to grow, rather than to flower.

A good rule of thumb is to cut these oxygenating plants back by one third every season, with minor pruning in the autumn and winter when the stems are close to the surface of the pond.

Dividing Oxygenating Plants

Oxygenating plants are ideal for dividing. This doesn't require much work because you can use the pruned stems. Choose some healthy new shoots from the off-cuts and plant these in a pond basket. Make sure that you divide your oxygenating plants in March and April.

Marginal plants

Marginal plants are normally decorative, though they do fulfil the same role as an oxygenator plant in providing plenty of oxygen into the pond and providing a safe location for your fish. Though many pond keepers will use them to soften the borders of the pond, giving the pond a natural feel.

Because these plants often have their displays above the surface of the pond, they are more likely to drop their leaves or flowers into the pond; which can decay and cause future problems, particularly with the water quality. It is often best to cut the stems to just above the ground and remove the leaves that are dangling above the water.

water lily | Description, Flower, Characteristics, & Facts | BritannicaWater lilies

Alongside the oxygenators and marginal plants, you may also have a water lily. Besides being the centre piece of any pond display, they provide a big increase in oxygen in the pond and they provide much needed shade in the summer months.

But, like other plants, they are likely to die off in the autumn and they will need to be pruned. You will need to remove any dead leaves or flowers and keep an eye on any leaves that are starting to rot.

Dividing Water lilies

We recommend dividing your lilies once every 3-4 years, normally throughout the summer period. Water lilies should be divided when the flowers have grown five to ten centimetres above the surface of the water.

Dividing a lily can be done by removing the basket in which the lily is planted from the pond bed. Remove the rhizome from the basket and cut off a good top shoot of about 15 cm. Remove the old rhizome and replant the new cutting. Place it pointing upwards in a water lily basket filled with pond soil. Place the root with its cut edge in a corner. This can then be placed back into the pond.

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